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N is for Network

Everyone knows the saying “it’s who you know.” I can personally vouch for the validity of that statement as it’s worked in my favor as well as against it.

But, there’s another “who” we sometimes forget or lose sight of as business people and that’s “who WE are.” How do we define ourselves and our business and how do we provide our contacts and prospects with the tools to describe the “who” as it applies to us?

One of the most powerful tools we have as business people is our identity – the definition of who we are as a business in a succinct and memorable fashion. And the assets at our disposal to accomplish this include the following:

1) Identity:
Make sure it’s easy to understand, well designed, exudes quality and is used consistently. Brand dilution happens when logos change across media or over time. Brand standards can go a long way in combatting this issue and can be accomplished easily.

2) Messaging:
Can people tell what you do in the fewest number of words possible? That sounds simple enough, but all too often buzz words and lofty etherial sales-speak takes the place of clear communication. In the age of tweets and short attention spans, the 500 word description and “think outside the box” verbiage no longer apply. Keep it simple and get to the point ASAP. I’m talking short – think 25 words. And if you want to be able to tweet your description, it’ll need to be less than 140 characters.

3) Brand Assets:
This includes brochures, business cards, your website and any other vehicle that transports your brand to your markets’ eyes. Keep these simple, informative and go for quality. If your collateral is cheap, that perception will transfer to your business offerings.

4) Networking:
Apply all of the above to this. Networking can literally be done anywhere – coffee shop, wedding, convention, online, etc. If you can flip someone your business card, it reflects a quality business, they can find your website and tell what you do in a matter of seconds, your efforts will be that much more effective.

Hone your “who” to be easily understood, remembered and portable. In this fashion your identity can serve as an extension of you and your sales efforts – working on it’s own and through others and preceding your business before introductions ever occur. So when the time comes to approach a new prospect, your “who” has a better chance of already being known.

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